The Role of Partnerships in U.S. Food Policy Council Policy Activities
Food Policy Councils (FPC) help to identify and address the priorities of local, state, and regional food systems with the goal of improving food systems through policy. There is limited research describing FPCs’ strategies for accomplishing this goal. As part of a larger study examining FPC policy efforts, this paper investigates the role of partnerships in food systems policy change. We conducted interviews with representatives from 12 purposefully selected FPCs in the United States and 6 policy experts identified by the selected FPC representatives to document and describe their policy work. One theme that emerged from those interviews was the role of partners. Interviewees described a range of partners (e.g., stakeholders from government, business, and education) and credited FPC partnerships with advancing their policy goals by increasing the visibility and credibility of FPCs, focusing their policy agenda, connecting FPCs to key policy inputs (e.g., local food community knowledge and priorities), and obtaining stakeholder buy-in for policy initiatives. Partnerships were also described as barriers to policy progress when partners were less engaged or had either disproportionate or little influence in a given food sector. Despite these challenges, partnerships were found to be valuable for FPCs efforts to effectively engage in the food policy arena.